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UK prospects Tom O’Brien and Jack Temple speak to MMA Latest

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Following a recent ICE FC event, MMA Latest spoke with two top UK MMA prospects; Tom O’Brien (3-1, pro) and Jack Temple (4-1, amateur) to discuss fighting for ICE FC, fighting out of Neil Hall’s Allegiance MMA and the sport in general on the UK regional MMA scene.


So Jack you’ve now fought twice under the ICE FC banner, and Tom once- they’re a fast-growing promotion on the UK MMA scene and in April they announced themselves as the World Series of Fighting’s official UK representatives. Is this exciting for you guys as fighters and are you hoping to fight at an ICE FC event again?

Jack Temple: I’d love to fight for ICE again, the World Series of Fighting news is pretty cool and it’s a good opportunity for everybody as a lot more people around the world are going to get to see it.

Tom O’Brien: Of course yeah, even before that partnership I thought they were a good promotion already and it’s just added something to them.

Do you feel like there is a benefit to these Pro-Am MMA events consisting of both professional and amateur bouts?

TOB: Yeah absolutely, from being on the amateur side of things in the past it was always nice to stay around and then watch the pros, to see that level and watch the other guys at work.

JT: Definitely, it gives you something to aspire to and something to aim for, even wanting to impress the pros on the same card with you, it’s always a good event watching the pros on the main card with an amateur undercard.

I felt like you both have a similar style in your stand up, very fluid and relaxed. MMA fans would recognise Allegiance head coach Neil Hall as a referee at some of the biggest UK events, what’s he like to train under, and is that style something cultivated at Allegiance MMA?

JT: It is, it’s the way that we all train together. I came in with a kickboxing background which was probably a lot different to the way these guys trained and Tom always had quite a fluid style anyway and he’s my main sparring partner. We had another teammate win on the same night on a show in Halifax who has come in with the same sort of style and won his last two by stoppage- it’s definitely a bit of an Allegiance style.

TOB: Yeah, definitely. I mean, Neil Hall is very open-minded, he’s done every martial art you could think of, so there’s not a technique lost on him to be honest. If we’ve got an idea we’ll share it and see if it works or not and I think that’s where that style comes from for me and Jack.

JT: He’s quite an intimidating man to begin with! But he’s a great guy like, he just has so much knowledge about martial arts in general. His main areas are sort of sambo and wrestling, all gritty stuff that’s just meant to hurt you. In Jiu Jitsu everything’s meant to be smooth but in sambo even in the transitions everything is meant to be painful and that’s quite an interesting way of looking at things. Even his striking style is a nasty, hard, strong striking style and he’s got a background in things like sport karate as well. It’s good, his way of thinking is very cool.

Tom that’s 3 TKO/KO stoppage victories in a row for you now, the most recent stoppage a TKO via leg-kicks. You don’t see many stoppages via leg-kicks, is that something you’ve done before?

TOB: Definitely, my leg-kick game is always on point and I pride myself on that in the gym, always working on them, they’re one of my favourite weapons to be honest.

You came into MMA from a rugby background, has that helped in any way? Do any skills cross over? Takedowns?

TOB: Definitely, as you say with the wrestling. I use it more defensively nowadays but my wrestling is, as British standard goes I’d say it’s probably up there, you know.

Jack, as an amateur you’re 4-1 with four first round finishes, most in less than a minute. Are you looking to switch to pro soon? And you’re coming off 3 fights in 3 months, when you do go pro do you want to keep up that pace?

JT: The plan was for another win in July then another win in August before turning professional, so we’ll see how the next two go- if I win the next two well, hopefully, I’ll turn professional later this year but it’s a bit up in the air with injuries at the moment. I’ve had all 5 of my fights since December of last year, I’d had injuries before that so once I got fit I just wanted to rack them up and get going so whenever they’ve rung up and offered a fight I’ve said yes every time- I’m in the gym all the time anyway and get bored if I don’t fight.

Your opponent in your last fight missed weight by around 4 lbs and obviously as it’s an amateur fight there’s no purse deduction awarded to you, how do you feel about that?

JT: I thought it was unprofessional, it was slightly annoying but it never made me think about taking the fight or not, it didn’t matter to me, I thought it might just make him more tired. He had a reasonable excuse for missing weight but in the end, it doesn’t matter.

In 2015 we saw a boom in MMA with Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, did you notice more people joining the gym?

TOB: Probably not as you’d think, more coming in for the grappling side of things to be honest. A lot more grapplers are coming in recently but I don’t know if that’s down to them or not.

JT: Yes and no- we’re sort of in a hard position where we’ve got some guys at a level where they’re actively fighting and we’ve got beginners who come and go- beginners always come and go and we haven’t got many guys in the gap in between. We’ve got the beginners and then we’ve got the fight team, and that gap makes it hard for the beginners to keep coming in. I’ve seen a lot of people showing more interest in MMA but not in the sense of actually coming in to the gym. People just seem to know more about what’s going on in MMA now though.

ICE’s next event, ICE FC 16 is on June 18th at the Temple Park Centre in South Shields.

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Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier Added to UFC Orlando

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The UFC has now added more bouts to the front end of their 2018 schedule. Gilbert Burns (13-2, 5-2 UFC) will face Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2, 6-2 UFC) in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.

Alongside a few other high-profile fight announcements, is the addition to the UFC Orlando, Florida card. The two lightweights will join Jake Collier and Marcin Prachnio, as the second fight set for the event.

It has been a while since the UFC hosted an event in the state of Florida. Last seen by the Floridians was UFC on Fox: Texeira vs. Evans, on April 16, 2016 in Tampa Bay. The card was a success, despite the cancellation of its planned main event between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Drawing a gate of $1.05 million and 2.13 million viewers.

Gilbert Burns signed with the UFC after accumulating an undefeated record of 8-0. His first loss came in his home country of Brazil, as Rashid Magomedov defeated him via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3, in November of 2015.

In his most recent bout, Burns defeated Jason Saggo by KO with five seconds remaining in the second round at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Branch.

Aubin-Mercier will come into the contest as a winner in his last three bouts. The Canadian fighter trains out of the Tristar gym, alongside legends such as Georges St. Pierre and head coach, Firas Zahabi.

In 2011, Aubin-Mercier was chosen to compete on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations. Competing in the welterweight bracket, he became a finalist by defeating both, Jake Mathews (unanimous decision) and Richard Walsh (rear naked choke). In the finale, Aubin-Mercier lost to Chad Laprise by split decision.

UFC Orlando will take place at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.

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Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida Officially Headlines UFC Belem

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Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida is officially booked to headline UFC Belem in Brazil.

Following his unanimous decision victory over Markus Perez on last weekends, UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Swanson, undefeated middleweight, Eryk Anders, called for the match-up with former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida. The UFC heard, and obliged.

First reported by The MMA Kings (@mma_kings.)

Anders holds a 2-0 undefeated record in the UFC. The Alabama native made his promotional debut against Rafael Nata in July of this year. A bout he took on short notice, replacing Alessio di Chirico whom withdrew from the fight due to a neck injury. Anders defeated Natal by knockout in the first round that night at UFC Long Island.

Prior to his indoctrination to MMA, the undefeated middleweight played for the University of Alabama football team, between 2006-2009.

Machida recently returned to the UFC roster after an 18-month suspension handed down by USADA, stemming from a failed out-of-competition test leading up to his April 2016 contest against Dan Henderson.

In his return to the octagon, Machida faced Derek Brunson in the main-event of the UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Machida, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “The Dragon” lost the bout via first round KO.

UFC Belem, Brazil is scheduled for February 3rd, 2018, at the Mangueirinho Arena. The card will also feature the flyweight debut for Valentina Shevchenko as she faces Priscila Cachoeira

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Sensor Equipped Tracking Gloves to be Used at UFC 219

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From implementing the likes of USADA, the UFC Performance Instiute and the introduction of the instant replay. The UFC has always prioritized being at the top of the sport science game. 

Now, at UFC 219 on December 30th, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has approved a test run for sensor equipped tracking gloves to be worn by a selection of fighters on the card.

The technology behind the gloves comes from AGI International (an analytics company) along with HEED (a consumer platform company). A collaboration founded by the UFC.

After a sparring exhibition between top lightweights, Edson Barbosa (19-4-0) and Mark Diakiese (12-1-0), HEED co-founder Mati Kochavi had this to say regarding how “70 insights” collected from sensors on the gloves, the corner-men, the octagon itself can depict a clearer image of a fight.

“Those insights are covering entire aspects  of the fight between Diakiese and Barbose. Their passion, power of the fight, resiliency and strategy. All happen in the octagon.“

Shouldn’t sport be told in real-time, with real data, information and emotions?”

He finally promises “We are a company which is trying to revolutionize the way we (broadcast) sports and live events”

As for now there is little to zero information into the technical aspects of the gloves, however products like a Fit Bit have similar abilities to give data on speed,  force, motion, elevation, heart rate etc.

The UFC 219 card takes place on Decemebr 30th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will be headlined by a women’s featherweight title fight between current champion Cris Cyborg (18-1) and former UFC bantamweight champion, Holly Holm (11-3).

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